Updated: Sub standard

23 08 2020

As many will know, more Chinese submarines are on the way for the Royal Thai Navy even when the economy is in deep trouble.

Coalition MPs sparked a public outcry on Friday by voting to purchase two more submarines as the economy sinks under the impact of Covid-19.

The subcommittee for procurement, ICT, state enterprises and revolving funds, which is vetting the annual budget bill for 2021, voted 5:4 on Friday to spend Bt22.5 billion on two more submarines.

It adds that this is part of a “planned purchase” approved by the “military-backed government of [Gen] Prayut Chan-o-cha to buy three subs from China. The first submarine was purchased in 2017 and will be delivered in 2024.”

Social media lit up.

The resulting social media storm has pushed the Navy to respond, trying to refute Puea Thai Party allegations:

An informed RTN source said Sunday that a clarification is necessary, because the opposition Pheu Thai party has given misleading information about the 22.5 billion baht acquisition.

The Pheu Thai party claims that the procurement contract, which was signed by then Navy Commander-in-Chief Admiral Luechai Rootdit, is not a government-to-government agreement and is invalid because it was not signed by the Thai Defence Minister, who is also the Prime Minister, representing the Thai Government, said the source.

It added that the Navy:

will also explain the strategic need for Thailand to have the submarines and that it does need extra taxpayers’ money, but will use only the budget, as allocated by the Government, to procure the submarines, while postponing its plan to procure surface ships and aircraft.

That will be interesting.

Update: And “interesting” it was. The Bangkok Post reports that the best Navy chief of staff Adm Sittiporn Maskasem could come up with was the statement that “the navy needed more submarines as part of its defence strategy…”. He also listed other countries in the region that had submarines, all of them ASEAN allies. It isn’t clear how allies are threatening, except that the Navy may feel it needs to keep up with its friends and neighbors, a bit like buying a new car after the neighbors display their new Benz. The Post does not mention that the Navy used a Nation TV “poll” to claim it has public support. Of course, Nation TV “polls” are nothing more than a user-pays call to its rightist viewers to support the Navy.

That recent claim that senior military appointees must be “intelligent, ethical, dedicated and loyal to the monarchy” is demonstrated to be a lie. The Navy chief is shown to be a dolt, and is hardly likely to be ethical or diligent, but may well be “loyal.”



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